Monday, March 05, 2007

Tuesday morning evangelistic smack-down, #23

Illustration of the Navigator's "one verse evangelism" on the right.
Might work sometime...

You believe in incarnational ministry? How about to THIS extent?

Evangelistic “wannabes” and seminary professors talk about incarnational ministry – preach it, teach it, read about it, converse on it. “The word became a sermon and was later expanded into a book and the book sold well and inspired other books until the making of books there was no end. And the world died in darkeness and was buried in the theological library. (Clarence Jordan) Occasionally, something pricks our phony worlds of “incarnational” verbiage and we are reminded what it really means…

“During the nineteenth century a group of missionaries in what is now
Surinam in South America, wanted to reach the inhabitants of a nearby island with the gospel. Most of these islanders were slaves on the large plantations that covered the island. The plantation owners feared the gospel and its results, and would not even allow the missionaries to talk with the slaves. They would allow only other slaves to talk with slaves.

“So the missionaries sold themselves into slavery in order to take the gospel to the islanders. Working in bondage in the harsh conditions of a tropical climate, they reached many of them with the good news.” Ray Hoo, "Turn Your World Upside Down," Discipleship Journal (July/August 1982)

They will know we are Christians by our love
I know, this is more an American story than a Christian one. But it illustrates the power of coming to people’s rescue one by one.

“Time magazine carried an interesting story about former President George Herbert Walker Bush. It described a trip he took back to the South Pacific. During World War II, Bush had been a bomber pilot, and was shot down by Japanese antiaircraft fire. The article detailed Bush's return to the very spot where he was rescued from his downed aircraft.

“During his return visit, Bush met with a Japanese gentleman who claimed to have witnessed Bush's rescue back in 1944. The man related that as he and others were watching the rescue take place, one of the man's friends remarked, ‘Surely America will win the war if they care so much for the life of one pilot.’” Canadian Edition, Time Magazine (11-23-02); submitted by Darin Latham, St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada

Passtion – Do we have it?
Paul said that “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.”

One can understand what “cursed and cut off” meant in the life of Paul from his testimony in his second epistle to the Corinthians: "I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?"

And how about this passionate prayer:

My God, grant me the conversion of my parish; I am willing to suffer all my life whatsoever it may please thee to lay upon me; yes even for a hundred years am I prepared to endure the sharpest pains; only let my people be converted. My God, convert my parish.” Cure d'Ars
Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney (better known as the Cure' d'Ars, or curate of Ars) was the son of a peasant farmer, born in France in 1786. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 4. The foregoing stories and the quote from – one great resource for illustrative material and more.

How about this for a Charles Wesley hymn.
A class hymn by a classic evangelist/poet. Songs of righteous responsibility are a bit rare these days, aren’t they?

My talents, gifts, and graces, Lord,
Into Thy blessed hands receive;
And let me live to preach Thy Word
And let me to Thy glory live!
My every sacred moment spend
In publishing the sinner’s Friend!

Enlarge, inflame, and fill my heart
With boundless charity divine.
So shall I all my strength exert
And love them with a love like Thine
And lead them to Thy open side,
The sheep for whom their Shepherd died.

Charles Finney on revivalism and evangelism contrasted
They are not the same, to be sure. A few thoughts on how they are different.

1. Revivalism is by periods; evangelism is perennial.

2. Revival is the Lord at work in the Church; evangelism is the Church at work for the Lord.

3. Revival is concerned with the conservation of spiritual realities; evangelism concentrates on the conversion of those who are aliens to spiritual realities;

4. In revivalism the accent is on the prevailing atmosphere, while in evangelism it is on a transforming decision for Christ.

“In a revival, Christians…will feel grieved that others do not love God, when they love him so much. And they will set themselves feelingly to persuade their neighbors to give him their hearts…When the churches are thus awakened…the reformation and salvation of sinners will follow.” (Finney, Revival Lectures)



At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Sunday School Teacher said...

Dear Matt,
I always enjoy your posts, and this one is no exception.
However, I must admit my ignorance and ask; what is incarnational ministry?


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